Picking out your first handgun can be exhilarating. The excitement of having your very own conceal carry gun, a tool that you will use to protect your life and loved ones, can feel like a noble right of passage. Even if we were given one from a friend or family member previously (all done legally of course), buying your own first handgun is a very personal experience. So to help make that easier for those out there looking to buy their first handgun, here are three things to consider before making your final choice.
#1 Firearm Experience
In this instance, when we say firearm experience what we are specifically talking about relates to recoil. If you have not had a lot of experience with firearms, a more powerful recoil could make it unnecessarily difficult when you first start out. I’ve seen too many people fire a gun for the first time who felt the recoil was too strong for them, and they became discouraged from wanting to shoot further. We don’t want this to happen to you.
If you are a novice or less experienced, considering the recoil on the handgun you want to purchase can be very important. It may be best to try a more manageable recoil round like a 380ACP or 9mm. These calibers are usually found in micro, compact, and sub-compact handguns. Once you prove to yourself that you are adequately proficient with a smaller caliber, you can then move up the ladder to larger rounds if you prefer.
The most important thing to always remember though about caliber is this; the “best caliber” debate is irrelevant. The best caliber is always the one you can shoot most effectively. It’s as simple as that.
#2 Your Personal Body Type
Go to any gun forum or firearm Facebook group and you undoubtedly will see questions like “Whats the best gun for a skinny guy?” or “I have a big belly, where is the best place to carry my gun?” Because this gun is going to be carried on your body, the shape of your body plays a big role in the type of gun you can comfortably carry.
For smaller framed people, trying to conceal carry a full sized 1911 is not an easy feat. It’s simply not a fit for their type of frame. The gun will most likely print too easily, and will be uncomfortable to wear. If you are a person with a big stomach, trying to carry a gun in the appendix position probably won’t be very comfortable, either.
Thinking about where on your body you want to carry the firearm should also be a consideration, and this again directly relates to your body type. It’s a little tough sometimes to determine how you’ll be able to conceal a certain firearm until you actually do it. A good way to find out would be to do some searches online to see what other people carry that may have similar body types to yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the person at the gun store for help. They sell guns all day to people of different shapes and sizes, and they can probably offer some sound advice.
Ultimately, the point is to find something that works well with the body you got, not the body you want.
#3 Performance History
You are buying this gun to protect yourself and to even save your life if the situation demands it. You absolutely want to make sure the firearm you are carrying is reliable. Nearly every firearm on the market has been reviewed dozens of times online. Your responsibility here is to do your research and learn about the specific handguns you are interested in. Find out what others have said about the gun’s reliability, durability, and any quirks a gun may have such as trouble feeding certain types of ammo, or parts that break down after a few months.
Most of these reviews come from average folks like yourself who are trying to help other people out with this information. Remember, some reviewers may have different experiences, so its important to examine as many reviews as you can. Look for common themes being mentioned; both good and bad. Make sure what you find out is that the gun is going to work for you when you need it.
One other important bit of information to try and gleam from these reviews is the natural out-of-the-box accuracy of the firearm. A gun that gets poor marks on accuracy is one you want to stay away from. Sure, accuracy issues can be fixed by replacing parts or buying after market accessories. Leave those kinds of modifications to more experienced shooters. If this is your first handgun, be sure that its accuracy is good right from the factory. You’ll need to count on that accuracy should you find yourself in a defensive gun use situation.